Tried Social Media and Failed? Try This
There is no doubt that social media has influenced the way most consumers lead their lives. Facebook, the granddaddy of all social media, has 1.32 billion active monthly users. If you were to poll your customers, you would find that most are active on Facebook. And that’s true regardless of your product category, location or target market.
With statistics like that, how can any business owner resist the lure of gaining new customers using Facebook? And if you are an online business, then this prospect is all the more alluring. Of course, it is not only about Facebook; there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and more.
If you have mastered the art of social media marketing, congratulations, you are one of the few. But most likely you end up victim to one of these popular social media marketing myths.
Myth 1: Create Social Accounts, and They Will Come
This is a rookie mistake, and even the best among us fell for it in the early days of social media. And that was not the first time we fell for a it. A couple of years ago, many of us fell for “Set up a website, and visitors will come rushing in.” It does not take much time to realize that merely setting up a web identity does precious little.
Myth 2: Publish Social Updates Regularly, and Social Reward Will Follow
Since merely setting up social accounts did not do the trick, we started publishing regular updates. The more sophisticated among us used specialized software that permitted us to schedule updates and manage multiple social media using a single dashboard. Alas! Soon we realized that did not do the trick either.
Myth 3: Get a Viral Idea, and Watch Your Audience Count Soar
Soon we evolved to the point of trying to publish viral content. But try as we might, people did not seem to appreciate our pictures of cute kittens. Witty lines, pretty pictures, words of the wise, soul-stirring real life stories, good morning messages, clickbait headlines and comic strips—everything that seemed to work for others did not hit the spot for us.And that caused us to conclude that social media marketing itself is a myth, and we are wasting our time. So we abandoned our social accounts or put them on some kind of automation.
Here’s Why Most Social Media Marketing Fails
We operated our social accounts as if there is a formula for success. That is the reason we had no chance for success. Think about it: social networking sites are just communication tools. Your audience still consists of human beings—the same human beings who engaged with you in person, by phone and through email. They do not change just because the communication medium is different. Customers and prospects continue to value the same elements of business relationships that they always did: relevance, trust and engagement. And unlike what you read in popular case studies, success in social media does not come overnight.
Try This: Just Get Into a Conversation With Customers and Prospects
Get into your social accounts one more time. This time around, forget the fact that you are using social media. Enter into conversations in pretty much the same way you always do. Don’t try to bait visitors for comments, likes, retweets or follows. Instead, spend the majority of your time visiting social accounts of customers and prospects.
If someone mentions you, respond. If someone replies to your update, react. Do not wait for people to acknowledge your social presence. Search for posts relevant to your business interest and start networking. Don’t restrict your focus to customers and prospects. Engage experts, influencers, vendors, suppliers and other important constituents of your ecosystem. Over time, you will be seen as a valuable member of social conversations in your space. That is when you will reap the true rewards of social media: relationships, credibility, influence, feedback and more.
Gaining social traction is neither quick nor easy. If you are a business owner who personally handles social media, be ready for a full year of effort before you start noticing a significant reward. If you have a person that can dedicate a couple of hours to your social accounts every day, then rewards come sooner.
Is Social Media Success Worth the Effort?
The rewards of an effective social media presence accelerate over time. If you can sustainit, you will not be disappointed in the long run. And since your competitors would have to go through the same effort-cycle, any lead you can gain over them will strengthen your competitive advantage.
Ajeet Khurana is CEO of the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at IIT Bombay, India’s premier engineering school. A famous entrepreneur, mentor and angel investor, Ajeet comes with extensive startup experience to his credit. From starting two ventures as a solopreneur, to helping a large number of startups with their go-to-market, he has never shied from getting his hands dirty. At the same time he has helped dozens of startups raise investment. He truly believes that small business owners are driving change in the world, and need to be facilitated as much as possible. Innumerable small businesses have gained from his attitude, vast professional networks, financial acumen and digital mindset.